As you get older, your birthday holds less excitement and expectation than it does as a child. Nevertheless, it’s still your special day and it’s nice to have a bit of a fuss made of you and, of course, to receive cards and gifts from your loved ones.
I always ensure that my friends and relatives receive well chosen, thoughtful gifts and cards in good time for their birthday. At the beginning of each year, I write all the birthdays I need to remember on the wall calendar, and that way I know who I need to buy for and nobody gets forgotten. Hardly rocket science, is it?
So, about a month ago, I found Ashley hunting in the filing cabinet in my office. I asked him what he was looking for. Passports, he says. Why, I ask. Turns out he’s checking when my birthday is.
CHECKING WHEN MY BIRTHDAY IS? He’s been married to me for sixteen frickin’ years, does he seriously need to look at my passport to check when my birthday is?
Earlier that day, I’d seen my brother and sister-in-law, and they’d given me my birthday present, as it was too big to post and they don’t live locally. I’d put it away in the spare room, as my birthday isn’t until the end of August, and Ashley had seen it and panicked that he’d forgotten my birthday!
Several years ago, my mother- and father-in-law completely forgot my birthday. They phoned up a couple of days later, absolutely oblivious, had a chat, asked what we’d been doing. Celebrating my birthday last Sunday, says I. Long silence on the other end of the phone. Oh, did we miss it? I was very hurt and upset at the time.
Last night I had mother-in-law and aunt-in-law over for dinner. We were talking about various people’s ages at one point in the conversation, and I said that I wasn’t looking forward to being 44 next week. Next week? says MIL in tones of horror. Oh. I always think your birthday’s in September. Oh, so you’d forgotten again, had you? Nice. She then goes on to say that she wouldn’t mind at all if somebody forgot her birthday, because ‘they’d remember eventually’. I said that I simply did not believe that if Ashley failed to even telephone and wish her a happy birthday on the actual day, that she wouldn’t be upset. She tried to deny it, but the wind was taken out of her sails when Ashley’s aunt piped up ‘Yes, you would, you’d be devastated.’
I have a close friend whose birthday is a couple of weeks before mine. She lives about five miles away, and I always either give her her card and present sometime before her birthday if we’re getting together in the couple of weeks beforehand, or deliver it to her house on her birthday or the day before.
Sadly, she doesn’t afford me the same courtesy and seems to think it’s acceptable to give me my present and card whenever she sees me after my birthday. Once it was October.
To me, that’s unacceptable.
My other sister-in-law completely forgot William’s birthday in February this year. Last month was her daughter’s birthday, and I sent a card (on time of course).
Last week I had a text from sister-in-law saying that she hadn’t thanked me for her daughter’s present as she’d only received a card, and had I left the present elsewhere (presumably she meant at her ex-husband’s house).
I replied saying that I’d assumed we were no longer bothering with presents for the kids as she hadn’t sent anything at all on William’s birthday, but that I felt I wanted to send a card to my niece, so I had done.
To be fair, she was very apologetic and said that she couldn’t believe she’d forgotten about it.
My side of the family always remember birthdays and ensure gifts and cards arrive on time. But it seems we are in the minority these days.
To me, the very act of giving timely gifts and cards is a statement of your love/friendship/affection for the recipient. Forgetting completely or giving something weeks after the event just says in foot high words ‘you are of very little importance to me’.
My husband is also in my bad books birthday-wise. We are off to Spain with hand luggage only to keep travel costs down tomorrow, hence I shan’t have any presents to open on my birthday, but will have cards. I mentioned to Ashley last weekend that it would be nice if he’d take Will shopping to choose a card for me. I know, pititful that I have to even ask, he should think of it himself, but he doesn’t. Guess what, we’re off tomorrow morning, he’s at work all day today, and he hasn’t taken William shopping. Nice.
If you’ve got to the end of this self-pitying rant and are still reading, well done.
I’d love to know other people’s thoughts on this – am I unreasonable in my expectations?